As you all know I am a huge believer that being and staying healthy and fit is a lifestyle, and not just a quick fix. But as we are all busy and stressed out with our every day lives, the beginning of such a lifestyle transition might seem very time consuming, or even intimidating. Every beginning is challenging, and in order to give you some motivation that it is all in our hands, I am starting a series of interviews with people that have undergo an amazing transformation just by adapting a few new habits.
Today I have the pleasure to introduce to you Elise Fleming, and her amazing transformation story!
Tell us about yourself!
Here are the facts! I am a 25 year old newlywed that lives in Washington State. I work as a middle school PE and Health Teacher and I am the Head Volleyball Coach for a high school volleyball program. I have one fur-child, my shih tzu Gus. I was a collegiate Track and Field Athlete and competed in high jump, triple jump, and hurdles before graduating, getting married, and starting my career!
What made you rethink your lifestyle?
After completing my college athletics career and getting married I put on a good amount of weight. I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror and hadn’t worked out for months! When I got on the scale I was shocked. I had hit the heaviest weight of my entire life. It was eye opening to me. I was a PE teacher telling kids to take care of their bodies and I hadn’t been taking care of myself! I knew something HAD to change.
What changes did you make?
The first change I made was nutrition. I started with just counting calories and just trying to keep the amount of food I was eating in check. The second change I made was deciding I was going to sweat every day. It didn’t matter if it was a 15 minute workout or an hour. I was going to move my body every day! Once I was doing those two things consistently I built on that foundation. I started choosing healthier foods and spacing my meals out. I also got smart about my workouts and incorporated lifting and cardio every day.
Have you tried diets before? What were the results?
When I was a college athlete I attempted to eat paleo for a while but I was at a point in my life where I could eat whatever I wanted without any major issues so I never stuck with it. The preparation it took wasn’t something I had available at the time and since I wasn’t consistent I didn’t see results.
Every new beginning is difficult – how did you stay motivated?
Checking in on social media was MAJOR motivation for me! Seeing other woman around the world working hard and CRUSHING their workouts helped me stay accountable. It motivated me to stay on track and stay consistent. Even if I didn’t want to work out I would see everyone’s check-ins and I would just know I HAD to get my workout in. Knowing that other woman have the same cravings and nutrition slip ups as me helped me know I wasn’t alone and it was normal to have off days!
How did you go about setting goals for yourself?
For a while I set weight goals for every week and knowing I was going to weigh in was super motivating for me! I also completed fitness testing so I could set fitness goals. I saw improvement on the amount of push-ups, sit ups, and burpees I could complete! I set goals for body fat percentage, and body measurements as well. There are so many awesome ways to set goals and see improvement along your journey and I pretty much used them all!
How long did it take you until this change became a lifestyle, and a normal part of your everyday life?
I would say it took about a year for me to really understand how to maintain and care for my new body. I struggled with consistency for a long time. I would work hard for a few months then let go for a few months. I learned it is WAY harder to work your way back up the hill then it is to just stay at the top. That’s where lifestyle comes in. It has to be consistent and maintainable. Meal prep used to be difficult but after doing it for a year it is a natural part of my weekly routine. It takes time but consistency will pay off!
Did you have any setbacks, and how did you overcome them?
My biggest setback was about a year ago. Initially I lost 20 pounds in about 10 weeks but after 5 months I gained it all back. I had worked so hard and I truly felt I had failed. I was so bummed I had thrown all my hard work away. Come January I decided I wasn’t going to let it defeat me. I decided you only fail if you stop trying, so I picked myself up and I tried again. With the support of friends and family I lost 38 pounds and I have kept it off! You will never regret trying your best!
What does your typical day look like in terms of nutrition choices and workouts?
I get up and work out first thing on an empty stomach with just water. My workout is normally 30-60 minutes. After I end my workout I have breakfast which MUST include protein. Usually eggs, oatmeal, fruit, Greek yogurt, or a protein shake. Then I have a snack which is a granola bar or fruit. For lunch I have salads with veggies, lean meat and quinoa rice. Then I have another snack. Usually veggies and hummus. For dinner I have 6oz lean meat, veggies and quinoa rice on most nights. Veggies can be celery, carrots, corn, or peppers. They are all amazing to me!
How do you stay healthy on the go or when you travel?
I travel a lot while coaching sports and keeping my health a priority is huge. I have to remember that there is nothing more important than taking care of myself and my body. If I have to get up at 5 am to get my workout in because I know I’m going to be coaching all day, then I’ll do it. I set out my clothes and set my alarm the night before and make it happen! No matter how tired I am in the morning I never regret getting my workout done. Being out of town means eating out as well. As soon as I know where we will be eating at I look up their menu online and check for a healthy low calorie option. That way I know what I’m going to eat before I get there and I can leave feeling good about what I chose!
A lot of people are concerned that such a change will affect their social lifestyle. Did this change affect your social lifestyle?
I feel way more confident when I get together with friends because I know I look my best! I also have gotten some wonderful complements from those who know me and strangers! Other than those two things not much else has changed! I realized at most social gatherings I was over eating and not choosing the healthy options but now that I am more aware I realized that at almost every gathering there IS a healthy option. You just have to look for it!
How has your life, health and overall wellbeing changed throughout this process?
My life is much more active and structured since beginning my fitness journey and I love the structure! I love having a routine in my daily life! Also my health is greatly improved! My doctor told me during a routine checkup that she can tell I am an athlete from my strong heartbeat and my body fat percentage has dropped 10%! I feel so much better about myself and my body. I think good things about myself and I continue to work hard because I love my body and want to treat it right! Basically, improving my health has improved EVERY aspect of my life!
You are working full time, how do you manage such a lifestyle (workout and nutrition) while working full time?
I can’t emphasize this enough. I MAKE THE TIME. I don’t just have endless hours to work out and cook healthy meals. I purposely set aside the time and make it a priority on top of my other daily responsibilities. I get up 45 minutes earlier then I have to so I can work out every day. I also meal prep all my breakfasts and lunches for the work week on Sundays so I can take them with me. Dinners I have time to make in the evenings since I work out in the morning. That is the system I have found works best for me!
Do you ever allow yourself unhealthy food? Do you feel guilty? How do you deal with it?
Of course! I’m human and sometimes I crave that sugar so bad! I would say maybe once a week I eat something completely unhealthy, ice cream, doughnuts, cake, and cookies. I don’t feel bad because I make SO many awesome healthy choices so often that I know one item isn’t going to throw me off track and won’t keep me from reaching my goals. It about balance and having a treat and quality time with a friend is way more important than hitting your calorie count for the day!
What can we always find in your fridge?
Salad, hummus, veggies, eggs, almond milk. If I run out of any of those I will go get more that day!!
What did you learn about yourself throughout this lifestyle change?
I learned that I am capable of SO MUCH MORE than I EVER thought possible! My body is an amazing thing that responds to every single workout and every piece of fuel I give it. I am strong and powerful. I am disciplined and successful. Those are all things I didn’t think about myself a year ago and now I know they are true! This has forever changed my perspective of myself and my life!
What kind of advise can you give to anyone looking to change their lifestyle to a healthier one?
Start with small changes and stay CONSISTANT. Rome wasn’t built in a day and fitness and health won’t happen overnight. Only hard work over a long period of time will get you where you want to be but it will be WORTH IT! Your health is one of your most valuable possessions, don’t ever take it for granted. You are worth it!